The Post

Draft national cancer action plan on way

- Ruby Macandrew Amber-Leigh Woolf

A long-awaited and muchcampai­gned-for national cancer action plan is set to soon be released for public consultati­on.

The plan, which Health Minister David Clark committed to at the Cancer Care at a Crossroads Conference in January, aims to address disparitie­s in Kiwis current access to fair and consistent cancer treatment around the country.

While the idea that cancer care in New Zealand is a ‘‘postcode lottery’’ is nothing new among those in the health sector, the much-needed momentum for change has come in the form of a plea from Blair Vining, a Southland father dying of bowel cancer.

Vining, over the past few months, has collected more than 60,000 signatures on a petition for a more co-ordinated approach to cancer control and treatment.

Clark, who wouldn’t confirm the exact date when the draft plan would be released into the public arena, acknowledg­ed ‘‘the courage and determinat­ion’’ of Vining and his family in helping push the plan to this latest stage.

‘‘[They] have lent urgency to this cause diagnosis.

‘‘It has been clear for many years that we can and must do better for cancer sufferers. That’s why I instructed the ministry [of health] to prioritise cancer work.’’

The plan, which the minister was ‘‘taking time to consider’’, looked likely to be released within the next week or so, according to those involved in its drafting.

It was being touted as ‘‘the first substantia­l refresh’’ of the national cancer action plan since it was put in place by the last Labour Government.

‘‘A focus of the plan is to ensure consistenc­y around national access to all services – prevention, treatment and management – and to ensure this work is conducted under strong effective central leadership,’’ Clark said. renewed since his Zero waster Hayley Crawford says she’s not perfect but reducing personal waste should be a gradual change.

She’s been working for about two years to cut down on plastic and all waste for her family of five and, even with three children, she says it’s possible.

‘‘I’ve always been conscious of the environmen­t and waste and made a lot of sustainabl­e decisions in that regard.

‘‘But in the last few years I’ve started to really take it seriously and I think that Plastic Free July has helped me to look at different things I can do and pledge.’’

Crawford said she started one step at a time, first by eliminatin­g plastic bags and bringing her own containers. ‘‘I think the biggest improvemen­t was composting, and not just food scraps.’’

Bulk food shopping also helped her to avoid plastic packaging at supermarke­ts, she said.

‘‘I remember thinking that I would never go as far as menstrual cups or menstrual underwear but once I felt like I’d reached that point, I found it was really easy, a real game changer.’’

Plastic bags have been made illegal in New Zealand as of this week but Crawford was told at a major retailer just a few years ago that she had to take a plastic bag.

‘‘It’s encouragin­g to know that all the things you can’t do now, they will change when we just keep fighting for it.’’

She’s started a YouTube channel and Instagram account, called Trash Talking Mama, to spread the zero waste word.

Crawford said she still struggled with some things and was trying veganism to consume fewer animal products. ‘‘I tell people to take it one step at a time.’’


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